A few random (and not-so-random) thoughts after the 16th week of the season:
* The lead of this blog really should be about how great a weekend of hockey we just saw, but I just feel compelled to repeat what I learned this weekend.
Speaking after his team beat Lake Superior State 6-1 on Friday, Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson related that his players have suffered seven concussions this season.
I understand that concussions are a tough thing to define and there may be no two exactly the same, so it’s hard to know the severity.
Still, something is just plain wrong when a team has that many traumatic head injuries in one season.
On Friday, it was Ian Cole that was the seventh on that list after a hit by Lake Superior State’s Will Acton — one that drew a major charging penalty and, a day later, a one-game suspension from the league.
“That’s the seventh concussion for our team this year, and I’m starting to get really tired of the high hits and checks from behind,” Jackson said in the game story by USCHO’s Lucas Punkari. “It might come across as whining since we’re not having a great season, but it’s having a direct impact on my players’ futures and their lives.
“We have someone like Eric Ringel, who is still dealing with post-concussion syndrome and I don’t know if he’ll ever play hockey again. If we don’t do something soon about these things in all levels of hockey, something bad is going to happen. But for one team to have seven concussions in a season, it’s outrageous.”
* Only four of the top 20 teams in last week’s USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll managed a sweep this weekend. Two of them — both home-and-home sweeps — were especially notable to me: St. Cloud State’s over Minnesota and Bemidji State’s over Minnesota-Duluth.
Will St. Cloud State finally get the top-10 recognition that it deserves? The Huskies are up to fifth in the RPI and are 8-0 since the holiday break.
And Bemidji State hasn’t had the greatest start to the second half of the season, but a pair of wins over a Minnesota-Duluth team that has been playing pretty well should be a notice that the Beavers are going to be a tough out in the NCAA tournament again.
How about that finish Saturday night? The Beavers’ Ben Kinne scored an extra-attacker goal with two seconds left to send the game to overtime. And Jordan George scored 36 seconds into the extra session to complete the road theatrics.
* That finish in Duluth was just one of the highlights Saturday night. The Denver-Wisconsin game was one of those that would fit into the top 10 of the season.
Ferris State got a much-needed victory over Michigan by scoring with 24 seconds left. Air Force got more dramatic, scoring with less than a second left in overtime for a victory over Holy Cross.
College hockey has taken some punches lately, but there were some pretty good reasons to think things are pretty good.
* I spent a lot of Sunday debating whether to go with Miami or Wisconsin as No. 1 on my ballot this week. I ended up with the RedHawks, although I wouldn’t argue much with someone who picked the Badgers.
Here’s my rationale: The RedHawks not only have the better RPI ranking, they have a few more “key” victories in my book. Yes, Wisconsin just got a very big win over Denver, but two wins would have looked a lot better than a win and a tie.
So here’s my top 20:
4. St. Cloud State
5. Bemidji State
6. Ferris State
8. Colorado College
9. New Hampshire
10. North Dakota
11. Boston College
12. Michigan State